Thursday, April 17, 2008

49 dead in Iraqi funeral bombing

At least 30 people have been killed and many wounded in a suicide attack on a crowd of mourners in Iraq.
The attacker detonated his explosives in the Sunni village of Bu Mohammed, near the city of Baquba, north of the capital, Baghdad.

The above is from BBC about one of today's acts of reported violence. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) goes with 42 and notes:

Police believe the strike appears to be latest assault to intimidate members of the awakening -- predominantly Sunnis Muslims who have joined forces with the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
The attack took place in Albu Mohammed, where mourners attended the funeral of Sheikh Ibrahim Aref al-Azzawi, a tribal leader in the predominantly Sunni village, police in the Diyala town of Khalis said. Witnesses say the injured have been taken to hospitals in Salaheddin province and in Kirkuk.
The sheikh is not a member of the local Awakening Council, but police believe he and the mourners were targeted because of their sympathies to the movement, which is cutting into what has been the insurgents' base of support. The sheikh had been gunned down two days ago.

While turncoats aren't 'naturally' popular in the areas they turn on, the reality the press ignores is that these 'neighborhood' militias are not 100% of a neighborhood. A large number of them are transplants from other areas. From Tuesday's snapshot:

Turning to Iraq. Refugee International released a study, authored by Kristele Younes and Nir Rosen, entitled "Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq" [PDF format warning, click here]. In the opening, the report notes, "Five years after the US-led invasion, Iraq remains a deeply violent and divided society. Faced with one of the largest displacement and humanitarian crises in the world, Iraqi civilians are in urgent need of assistance. Particularly vulnerable are the 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis who have fled their homes for safe locations inside Iraq. Unable to access their food rations and often unemployed, they live in squalid conditions, have run out of resources and find it extremely difficult to access essential services."
[. . .]
On the subject of militias, the report notes that the "Awakening" Council is abosrbing males who have relocated from other areas of Iraq. Leaving the report, Nouri al-Maliki (puppet of the occupation) has questioned the loyalty of the "Awakening" Councils (Sunni militias). US Senator Barbara Boxer raised that issue last week during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing when she pointed out that the US is paying the "Awakenings" $182 million a year, $18 million month, and that now the White House, via US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, "are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them". So the questions about their loyalties/ties to the central government in Baghdad is in question. But Refugees International's study raises another issue. Due to the fact that these are displaced Sunni males from other areas, their loyalties/ties are also not to the local government. The organization spoke with members in mutliple areas and "found that displaced men have joined armed groups. In some cases locals complain that the displaced are more aggressive and radical than local men who have joined the same groups." In Dora, they're informed by two members of "Awakening" Councils that they came on board for two reasons "money and the desire to take action against Shiites." So (leaving the report) the US government is arming and training these militias and not only are they not loyal to the central government in Baghdad (few Iraqis see al-Maliki as a legitimate leader) they aren't even loyal to their regions and one of the selling points from the Bully Boy and the US military brass is that these militias are "local" forms, "local" bonds. That argument tries to state that the "Awakening" Council is a strengthening force for the Iraqi government and that, being local, it strengthens the local government and that travels upward. But that's not at all what Refugees International found. The "local" militias aren't exclusively "local" and there are little tes to the local government or to the neighborhood. The report notes: "Like the Mahdi army, these Sunni militias also have political goals and are attempting to unite to become a larger movement that will be able to regain Sunni terriotry and effectively fight the Shiite militias and the Shiite dominated government, which they call and 'Iranian Occupation.' In some ways their attitude is, 'The Americans did not buy us, we bought them'." The central government in Baghdad is an installed government. As US Senator Joe Biden noted last Thursday in the Senate Foreign Relations Comittee hearing, the White House wants to negotiate a treaty (Status of Forces Agreement) with the central government but "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be place a year from now -- half the government has walked out." Refugees International's study notes that the Shi'ite versus Shi'ite struggles currently going on take place as Sunnis who feel disenfranchised plan what to do when the US does pull out.

Dean Yates (Reuters) reports 49 dead from today's funeral bombing at at least 55 injured and quotes eye witness Tuz Khurmato explaining, "Suddenly a fireball filled the funeral tent. I fell to the ground. I saw bodies scattered everywhere." Yates also notes the continued fighting in the Sadr City section of Baghdad which saw more fighting "overnight". Sadr City is the topic of Michael Kamber's "Desertion or a Break? An Iraqi Gives His Side" where an anonymous Iraqi Army officer (captain) explains he didn't desert in the midst of battle, he just decided "to take his long-over-due three-day break." Taking him at his word, that should actually be more disturbing to those training the Iraqi military and, in fact, might suggest that the US military needs to do a seminar on paid leave. It should be noted that he also stated that he's received no payment for two months now. Alissa J. Rubin's "Two Commanders in Basra Are Sent Back to Baghdad" covers the dismissals and notes: "Although some people close to the generals saw the government move as a rebuff, officials took pains to paint their actions as part of the nomral sequence of events." Both stories run in the New York Times on A16 -- Iraq drifts further and further from the front page." No mention is made of the conflicting stories (see yesterday's snapshot) so possibly the puppet government has dropped that spin.

Ava and I are doing the next entry together to acknowledge the big topic in the e-mails; however, this is a topic we're covering on Sunday.

And Sabina notes "Willie Colon Endorses Hillary Clinton for President" (

The Clinton campaign announced today the endorsement of winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Grammy, musician Willie Colón.
"Hillary has been on the side of our families for over 35 years -- she has been with us from the very beginning. I want a President who I can count on, someone who in tough times will be there for me -- that's why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton," said Colon.
Willie Colon, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican grandparents, has fused his musical talent, his commitment and passion for humanity, and his activism into an extraordinary career.
His achievements in all his activities are widely recognized. As musician, composer, arranger, singer, and trombonist, as well as producer and director, Colon holds the all time record for sales in his genre -- he has created 40 productions that have sold more than thirty million records worldwide.
In 1997 Willie Colon became a spokesperson for the international relief and development organization CARE. Colon has also been involved in the campaigns to end the practice bombing of the Puerto Rican island municipality of Vieques. On April 16, 2001, Willie received the EPA's "Environmental Quality Award", the EPA's highest award for people that do not work for the Agency.

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